08 Feb How Long Do Benzos Stay in Your System?
Whether you’re a one-time user, or have a fully-developed addiction, at some point, you may want to rid your body from benzodiazepines. Regardless, the benefits of cleaning your system of the prescribed drug can be life-changing.
Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are a depressant that works by decreasing the amount of activity happening in the brain to produce a state of calm and euphoria which effectively reduces anxiety disorder symptoms such as insomnia and panic attacks. While they can be helpful in short doses under careful supervision, it is easy to develop a dependence or addiction to benzodiazepines, so getting them out of your system can be a very healthy choice.
There are many variables to consider when it comes to how long benzos will stay in your system, including which drug is being taken and what type of test will be administered. There are also other factors related to the individual that will impact how long the drug stays in their system, some under your control, some not.
We’ll tell you right up front that it is nearly impossible to come up with an exact timeline for getting a benzodiazepine out of your system, but it is possible to determine a general range. We’ll go over all of the potential factors here, as well as some strategies you can use to move the detox process along.
If you are seeking help for an addiction to benzos or any other prescription drugs, call us today at 678-283-9115 to speak with an addiction specialist about treatment options.
Which Type of Drug Test Are You Taking?
The type of drug test you take also factors into how long the drug can be detected. These include blood tests, urine tests, hair tests and saliva tests.
Blood tests are often used in investigations where benzo use is suspected or with the elderly. Benzos can be easily detected via a blood test because the drug accumulates in the bloodstream. Blood samples give testers the levels of the drug as well as its metabolites, especially if the person is a frequent user.
This form of testing is thought to be the most accurate for benzos usage. A single dose of benzodiazepines can be detected in the blood for six to 48 hours.
Urine tests cannot specifically detect a benzo, but they can identify metabolites that exist in the drug. Based on the individual, the metabolites may remain detectable for just a few days after ingestion, while they may stay in the system of others up to six weeks after the final dosage is taken. Urine tests are the most common tests for benzos.
Hair tests are the preferred testing method of law enforcement because of their ability to detect benzos usage over a long period of time. Hair tests can detect benzos up to 90 days after a person’s last usage. A sample of hair follicles, usually from the head, will be taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis in this test.
Although easy tests to conduct, saliva tests are less reliable than the other options, and can only be performed when the proper laboratory equipment is available. Larger doses are easier to detect in oral samples, and benzos will be detectable on average for seven to nine days after the last dose of the drug was taken.
Are there other factors that affect how long benzos will stay in your system?
Yes, there are! The most significant factor influencing how long a benzodiazepine will be detected involves the elimination half-life of the particular drug being used.
The half-life of benzos can vary greatly. For example, Halcion has a very short half-life, while the half-life of Valium is very long. The longer the half-life, the longer it will take a drug to get out of your system.
Below is a list of common benzos (with their most commonly known names in parenthesis) and their respective half-lives and detection windows.
Alprazolam is a long-acting benzo that can be habit-forming. Abrupt stoppage of use can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and even fatal seizures. Alprazolam has a half-life of 6 to 27 hours and a detection window of 1 to 4.5 days.
Chlordiazepoxide can be habit-forming and users will often build a tolerance, necessitating larger doses to reach their intended effect. The half-life of Chlordiazepoxide is 6.6 to 25 hours and it has a detection window of 1 to 4.5 days.
Clonazepam is a habit-forming drug and can cause sudden and serious withdrawal symptoms if use is suddenly ceased. The half-life of Clonazepam is 19 to 60 hours and the detection window is 3 to 10 days.
Diazepam is habit forming. Users are prone to build tolerances and excessive use will make the drug less effective. Withdrawal will occur if the user suddenly stops taking the drug. The half-life is 21 to 37 hours and the detection window for Diazepam is 3 to 6 days, but the detection window can be greatly extended because of the presence of multiple metabolites in the drug.
Estazolam can be habit-forming and is not meant to be taken in large doses or over a long period of time. Suddenly stopping taking the drug can cause withdrawal. Estazolam has a half-life of 10 to 24 hours and a detection window of 1 to 4 days.
Flurazepam can become habit forming and is should not be taken in large doses or over a long period of time. Suddenly stopping usage of the drug can cause withdrawal. Flurazepam has a half-life of 1 to 3 hours and a detection window of 4 to 12 hours. However, Flurazepam’s major urine metabolite, 2 Hydroxyethylflurazepam, has a detection window of 4 to 16 days.
Lorazepam can be habit-forming and is not intended to be taken in large doses or for any period of time longer than 4 months. If you cease taking the drug suddenly, it can cause withdrawal. Lorazepam has a half-life of 9 to 16 hours and a detection window of 1.5 to 2.5 days.
Midazolam is a more extreme benzo and can cause serious, life-threatening breathing problems such as shallow, slowed or temporarily-stopped breathing. When Midazolam is administered, the personnel and equipment needed for standard respiratory resuscitation should be immediately available. Yet despite its risks, Midazolam has a short half-life of 1 to 4 hours and a detection window of only 0.5 to 2 days.
Temazepam is a metabolite of Medazolam and Diazepam. The sudden stoppage of administration of this drug can cause withdrawal. Temazepam has a half-life of 3 to 13 hours and a detection window of 1 to 4 days, which can be prolonged.
Triazolam should only be taken for short periods of time, generally 7 to 10 days. It should not be taken for more than 2 to 3 weeks. If taken for extended periods of time, or in high doses, users will build up high tolerances to the drug, and it can become highly addictive. Sudden withholding of drug can cause withdrawal. Triazolam has a half-life of 1.8 to 3.9 hours and a detection window of 7 to 15 hours.
As you can see, the half-life of benzos can last anywhere from 1 to 37 hours. That’s quite a range! And that doesn’t even take into consideration any of the other factors involved in ridding a substance from your system.
Some of these variables include:
- Liver function
- Body mass/Body fat
- Length of usage
- Dosage and frequency
- Other drugs in the system
When determining how long benzos will stay in your system, one of the most important variables to consider is your liver (hepatic) function. When liver function is impaired, it takes much longer to get the drug out of your system.
For example, a study that compared individuals with decreased liver function to healthy adults showed that the half-life of Valium was extended by five times in those with decreased liver function. The Valium had a 164-hour half-life compared to 32-hours in the otherwise healthy participants. This means it could take roughly 38 days for someone with poor liver function to eliminate Valium from their body, or longer.
There are several individual factors at play that may cause two individuals with similar liver function, who have taken the same dosage of a particular benzo at the same time, to eliminate the drug at different speeds.
Age has a large impact on the drug’s elimination half-life, as it takes users over the age of 65 twice as long as younger adults to eliminate the drug from their system. Why? Because of several health functions that decrease as you get older, including reduced albumin levels, diminished hepatic blood flow, various health conditions and the administration of other medications.
Body Mass/Body Fat (%)
How long a benzo stays in a person’s system can depend on their body mass and percentage of body fat. Obese individuals have a much longer elimination half-life than healthy persons, with obese persons having a drug half-life of 82 hours. Meanwhile, healthy people have a half-life of 32 hours. To clear the plasma from their system, the difference is 19 versus 8 days, respectively. This is because benzos are distributed further in the body in individuals that are obese.
Benzos are metabolized by various enzymes in the liver. These enzymes are influenced by genetics, which can cause them to have reduced function. In these cases, it will take longer to eliminate the drug, versus those who have normally functioning enzymes.
Length of Usage
A person who has used benzos over a long period of time will have a tougher time getting the drug out of their system, because more of the drug has been accumulated in their body. Long-term, consistent users will have achieved and even raised their peak concentration levels. A person who has only been using the drug for a short period of time will never reach peak concentrations in their system and will have less metabolites in their body, and be able to excrete it faster.
Dosage and Frequency
Dosage and frequency also play a part in how long a benzo will stay in your system. It takes a single 10 mg dose of benzos longer to fully metabolize and excrete than a 0.5 mg dose. Why? Because the larger dose accumulates further throughout the body, and places a greater burden on your liver, which leads to a slower breakdown of the drug. This prolongs the benzo’s elimination half-life.
In regards to frequency, a person taking a single dose of a particular benzo will eliminate it faster than someone who takes it several times throughout the day. This is because the drug accumulates further into the body with each successive dose. The more doses you take, the longer it will remain in your system.
Other Drugs in the System
Having other drugs in your system at the same time as a benzo will also influence how long it takes to eliminate them. Some drugs will inhibit the enzymes you need to metabolize benzos, which keeps the drug in your system longer. Meanwhile, there are actually other drugs that may actually speed up the elimination process. This all depends on the specific drugs taken and their individual dosage.
Is there anything you can do to get benzos out of your system faster?
Yes, there are some things you can do, just make sure you consult a medical professional before moving forward with any of these suggestions to ensure your safety.
The first thing you can do is to stop using the benzos you are taking. This is most safely done under close professional supervision. You can also exercise, as burning body fat will speed up the elimination process, especially in obese individuals. Drinking lots of water will also help to excrete the drug from your body. Additional supplements are also available to boost liver and renal function to help flush the drug out.
These are all things to consider should you need to get benzos out of your system and overcome benzodiazepine addiction. The process will take a varying length of time, depending on all the factors listed above, but with patience and care, you should be able to successfully clear the drugs out of your system.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, specifically with Benzodiazepines prescription medications, treatment options are available. We are here to help.
“Benzodiazepines.” Drugs.ie. 28 Feb. 2019. http://www.drugs.ie/drugtypes/drug/benzodiazepines
Garrett, Marian. “How Long Do Benzos Stay in Your System Once You Stop Taking Them?” Drugs.com. 22 July 2014. 28 Feb. 2019. https://www.drugs.com/answers/how-long-do-benzos-stay-in-your-system-once-you-317438.html
“How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in Your System?” American Addiction Centers. 28 Feb. 2019. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/benzodiazepine/how-long-in-system